Award Date

5-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies

Department

Communication

First Committee Member

Thomas Burkholder, Chair

Second Committee Member

David Henry

Third Committee Member

Joseph Valenzano

Graduate Faculty Representative

David Holland

Number of Pages

129

Abstract

Most religious discourse is predicated on the assumption that our choices in life have eternal implications. For those who subscribe to a belief in an afterlife, rhetoric which exploits eternity to form attitudes and induce actions can be especially persuasive. This study performs a detailed analysis of a particularly compelling case of the rhetoric of eternity during the twentieth century: C.S. Lewis‘s fictional demon Screwtape. In The Screwtape Letters and ―Screwtape Proposes a Toast,‖ Lewis offers readers an eternal, though diabolical, perspective of the ―modern‖ intellectual climate during the twentieth century. By puppeteering a demon in prose, Lewis satirically lampoons secular humanism and attempts to inculcate his version of Christianity in his readers. This analysis utilizes a theoretical framework based in ancient rhetorical figure prosopopoeia and the work of Kenneth Burke, specifically his notions of perspective by incongruity and ultimate terms. The Screwtape discourses constitute an artistically resourceful attempt to transform an audience‘s worldview from the temporal to the eternal.

Keywords

Perspective by incongruity; Prosopopoeia; Religious rhetoric; Rhetoric of eternity; Screwtape; Ultimate terms

Disciplines

Communication | Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion | Rhetoric | Rhetoric and Composition

Language

English


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